It’s not the sweep of jaw-dropping views from its manicured gardens or its killer Sunday brunch (that boasts 12 hot items, 13 salads, 30 cold dishes and fresh salmon prepared eight ways), it’s the hydro-therapy treatment at the Kingfisher Resort’s spa that stays with you the longest. Just eight km south of Courtenay, on the east coast of Vancouver Island, this is where Disney meets Spaland. After an ordinary check-in, a bit of Disney takes over as you’re led into the bowels of the spa, a series of man-made caves. So dark are they, you’re likely to blink madly when you first enter the underground maze. Once your eyes adjust you’ll notice a ceiling of braided sticks and twinkle lights and then you hear it—the whoosh and trickle of water. Everywhere. Framed by banks of smooth sandstone boulders (knock-offs, of course), a series of little antichambers and caves serve to guide you through an eight-step, minimum one-hour “treatment” that involves a series of water-based, detoxifying therapies.
Stand under a roaring waterfall and those ornery knots bunched in your shoulders will get pummelled right away. Scrub yourself with a paste of sea salt and your skin immediately begins to tingle. Then there’s the hot-water, uber-salty pools that you can float around in before braving the icy blast of a plunge pool. Of course, all the regular treatments from various massages to facials are on this healthy menu but if you’re hunting for something unusual, something very West Coastish, the Pacific Mist Hydropath is it!
The stunning location shoreside on western Vancouver Island guarantees great views (try going in winter for storm-watching); the proximity to the sea ensures all its house-made products use nutrient-rich seaweed, salt and glacial mud harvested from the Pacific. The three-hour Drift Away signature treatment—including a hydrotherapy tub, body wrap, mini-massage and exfoliation—is the ultimate Drift Spa bliss.
An Insider’s Guide to Vancouver Island
If you could shape a piece of clay into your ideal destination, it might look a lot like Vancouver Island: sandy beaches that feel subtropical; valleys where flowers bloom and spring seems eternal; widely acclaimed artists, musicians and festivals that could fill weeks with mind-expanding experiences; and farm-fresh produce, artisan cheeses, local wines and handcrafted spirits in overwhelming abundance.